Condé Nast Names Kogod Courtyard Architectural Wonder
March 27, 2008
The Kogod Courtyard, shared by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, has just been named one of seven architectural wonders of the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Way to go! From the article:
When your commission is to work on what Walt Whitman called "that noblest of Washington buildings," it's best to have a gentle touch. In capping off the courtyard of the Old Patent Office Building, a nineteenth-century Greek Revival edifice known as the Reynolds Center that's home to the [Smithsonian] American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, British architect Sir Norman Foster was careful to tread lightly. "Given the importance of the Old Patent Office, the design was wholly driven by a deep respect for the existing building," Foster has said. "It was decided that it should not touch the building at any point but instead float above it like a cloud over the courtyard." The ceiling, whose curves help support its weight, is connected to the facade by a few inches of sealant, while thin aluminum-clad columns both support the structure and channel rainwater to the garden below. Sunlight passes through the lattice of the canopy, casting a grid of shadows on the granite floor and the shallow fountain that runs across it. At night, when the space is often used for events, the roof becomes a delicate shelter against the dark and distant sky (8th and F Sts. N.W.; 202-633-1000; reynoldscenter.org).
Doing a little fact checking on my own, it turns out that Smithsonian horticulturalists water the gardens manually. Rainwater goes a bit further: to storm pumps in the basement where it is pumped out to city drains. Rainwater aside, come see our wonder for yourself. It's especially nice when, like today, it's cold and rainy outside.
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